The Commission yesterday approved the joint request by the US, Russia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines for their countries’ subsistence hunts, but not without dissent.
The final vote was 48 ayes to 10 noes, with two abstentions and one not participating. The 48 aye votes barely represented the three-quarters majority necessary to amend the IWC Schedule.
Although speakers generally praised the proposals for extensions of quotas to the US for their bowhead whaling by Alaskan Inuit and quotas for the Russian Chukchi people (which also includes a quota for the unfortunate Makah whalers of Washington state in the US, who are still barred from whaling by domestic court action), many speakers, particularly several Latin American countries and Monaco, expressed concerns about the quota of humpback whales for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Monaco abstained on the final vote for this reason (bravely bucking an EU consensus), and several nations like Brazil, Argentina and Chile voted against the package, maintaining their opposition was to parts of the package involving St. Vincent & the Grenadines’ controversial hunts. Even several countries that voted for the package, notably Mexico and Panama, expressed frustration that the quotas were presented as one resolution rather than as individual votes, so that review of specific hunts was undermined. In response, a number of countries associated with Japan spoke angrily about the opposition, with the representative of St. Kitts and Nevis rashly accusing opponents of “bigotry,” “rudeness,” and even “racism” in their concerns about whaling by Bequians. Korea spoke in favor of the package, but played up their own expressed wish to go back to commercial whaling, claiming their own coastal towns somehow “resemble” aboriginal subsistence whalers.
These responses promise a very heated discussion later in the IWC when Japan’s proposal to renew “coastal-type” commercial whaling comes up for review. For those of you who oppose commercial whaling, expect to be called all kinds of names generally related to past colonial history.